I just completed 3 months of U.S. Census phone surveys. One of the questions I was routinely asked was "How many hours did you work last week at your primary job? How many hours did your husband work at his primary job?" WE live on a ranch. I am a cowgirl. The Cowboss is a cowboy. Do you think they would believe me if I responded with "Well, there are 7 days in a week and 24 hours in a day, so I guess 168 hours?"
While we may not have been physically working on the ranch, we were on call that entire time. For me this is a very hard question to answer. Do I just account for the hours of physical labor? What about the bookkeeping aspect of it, or even just the hours I spend thinking about my ranch job? Things like figuring how much to feed each cow or horse, and how much hay we need to get through the winter, or what vaccines we need to give and how many doses we need to purchase, or even what jobs I need to complete here on the ranch.
Ranching isn't a 9 to 5 Monday through Friday job with a 40 hour work week. We don't get a time card to punch when we get to and leave work. We don't have weekends off or vacations. If we take a trip away from the ranch we spend that time worrying about what is going on at the ranch.
Why do it? I have a college degree and can have a job anywhere with better hours and better pay. The Cowboss could get a job at the mine, work 15 days a month and make significantly more money. We could both drive brand new vehicles and have a brand new horse trailer. We could go home a the end of the day and not think about our jobs.
On the other hand, we wouldn't be able to take our boys to work with us whenever it strikes our fancy. We wouldn't have the teaching opportunities to teach things that are important to us, like work ethic, compassion, or the cycle of life that ranch living grants us. We wouldn't be able to stop in the middle of work to watch a cow calve, cranes dance, baby geese swimming, or even a coyote hunting mice in a ditch. I really don't know why people would want to work anywhere else!
It's the Heart of the Matter
5 months ago